Trigger Warning – Planned homebirth turned cesarean
Nora Ivy Born at home into her father’s loving arms
That’s a lie.
I used it as a mantra the days before I went into labour. And then I laboured hard. Oh, did I labour. It was difficult and beautiful. It was natural and felt impossible. I yelled and swore and moaned. I laughed. I cried. We wanted so badly to have our little one at home. I trusted my midwife. I did not trust or believe in her protocol. My body does not listen to protocol.
But after 29 hours of hard labour I was in no mood to argue with protocol. Nobody was. It was time to go to the hospital. Time has no place in childbirth. Nothing was wrong, the clock had just run out (my midwife was kind enough to sit nervously by for a few extra hours). My natural homebirth turned and gave me everything I wanted to avoid. I consented to an epidural and Pitocin. I did not consent to a vag exam by an arrogant resident doctor; she was the worst. When my clock ran out for a second time at the hospital I signed my name on the consent form: Cesarean Section. My husband snuck a video camera into the OR. He captured the whole thing. I have watched it dozens of times. I have watched it again and again, moving the cursor to the moment they pulled her from me. They cut the cord immediately. I have apologized to my daughter for that. They whisked her away and she cried for me. I could not get to her, immobilized on the crucifix where I was forced to sacrifice myself for my sweet girl. I heard my husband ask for skin-on-skin and they said that it wasn’t really possible. I know they lied, it just wasn’t convenient. They bundled her in three layers and all I could see was her face. My husband repeats “It’s a girl. Nope. No penis.” over and over. I can hear him crying.
My peaceful homebirth got railroaded into a sterile operating room for no other reason than my body moving too slowly, at its own pace. My daughter was sunny side up which typically means an exceptionally long labour. I feel sorry for my midwives who had to push me into something we all knew was wrong: they are not allowed to be the midwives they want to be. I feel sorry for my husband who laboured right along beside me and had to watch my heart break. I feel sorry for myself because a hundred times over I could have had that baby on my own terms. I feel sorry for my daughter because her first experience Earthside was being pulled from my abdomen by her head. I feel sorry for that nasty resident who seems to think birth is something she can control and manipulate, something that needs to be fixed. She is so very wrong. I am not ashamed to feel sorrow about what should have been the best day of my life: rules and guidelines made it bittersweet. I do not believe that our surgery saved any lives. I expected overwhelming joy and was given a painfully inaccurate lesson in not trusting my body. I will never become a parent for the first time again. They took that from me. I am not ashamed to feel this way. Our system is flawed. It took so much from me. I have spent the last few months trying to see the beauty in the way my daughter was born. I am still mourning the way I wanted it to be. It is there, in that video, in my memories. I try not to play “what if?” but most days that’s all I can do. I have a scar for the rest of my life – through skin and muscle, into organ, through my heart and into the deepest part of my soul. The worst part of it all is that I am not the only one. I wish for all of womankind that I could bear this pain alone, but I am not alone. I am sorry that it happened that way.
Our system is flawed, our bodies are not. Something needs to change.
Nora Ivy Pulled from her mother by a stranger
I will learn to see the beauty in that.
Written by: Virginia Heron